« Back to Collections

Sacramento Room Digitization Project - Yearbooks

Sacramento Public Library
Go to Website

Problem Statement

Expanding access to the unique collections of the Sacramento Room, especially as the room is open to the public for limited hours.


The Sacramento Room staff is digitizing 100 yearbooks from Sacramento-area schools. “The collection is fully catalogued, well-used including for genealogical purposes, and of interest to the local community. The selected yearbooks are out of copyright, they provide a public relations opportunity to outreach to the schools represented in the selection, and they provide a different sort of history of Sacramento as reflected from a perspective of the history of Sacramento education and history of Sacramento schools.“ (A. Graham, as cited in Hernandez, 2011)

The article “An anniversary opportunity: Digitization of student yearbooks” written by Lowrey and Blessing (2006) provides some additional benefits to creating digital year book collections: “yearbooks provide an opportunity to move ‘beyond item-level cataloging of photographs in order to make a larger amount of [the] historical collections available to online users.’ The 125th anniversary of Marquette University offered the perfect occasion to “feature a high percentage of the university's 100,000 alumni” and resulted in the collection being “browsed or searched more than 44,000 times during the initial six-month reporting period” as well as generating a “modest revenue” from reproduction order requests. (Lowrey & Blessing, as cited in Hernandez, 2011) [Hernandez, L. (2011), Sacramento Room Digitization Project: A case study. Unpublished term paper for Drexel University INFO 653-900 Winter 2011.]

SPL is the only public library in Northern California and perhaps in the nation to launch an extensive yearbook digitization project. This provides a unique opportunity to build relations with area schools, reconnect residents to the library as they discover family histories, and create value for the library as a custodian of community knowledge.


One hundred yearbooks have been selected for digitization from over 600 in the Sacramento Room collection. The Sacramento Room has made connections with several local schools and alumni associations and received donations of yearbooks for the project. In addition, the Library is coordinating with the Center for Sacramento History to fill in gaps its collection. The yearbooks will be digitized and made freely available (and full-text searchable) through the Sacramento Room Digital Collections website by August 2011.